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Crimen Ferpecto (Ferpect Crime)

(2005) *** Unrated
105 min. Vitagraph Films. Director: Alex de la Iglesia. Cast: Enrique Villen, Fernando Tejero, Kira Miro, Guillermo Toledo, Monica Cervera.

"You turned me into a normal person!" No fate could be worse for the attention-demanding capitalist rake at the center of Crimen Ferpecto (Ferpect Crime), the latest from Álex de la Iglesia. Rafael González was born to sell, literally: his mother gave birth in the department store where he works. "I'll live and die here," he tells us. "It's my destiny."

Rafael (Guillermo Toledo) is a ladies' man, with typical bachelor's anxieties about marriage and children. He considers the womenswear section his "kingdom", but when he accidentally kills Antonio (Luis Varela)—his rival in the competition for a floor-manager position—Rafael winds up beholden to a woman for the first time.

The woman, Lourdes (Mónica Cervera), has never gotten the time of day from Rafael, but relishes her newfound power to domesticate the tall, dark, and handsome murderer. When Rafael meets with the woman who has his fate in her hands, he asks her, "What was your name again?" Drawing attention to her name tag, she replies, "We've worked together for ten years."

Iglesia and co-writer Jorge Guerricaechevarría skillfully turn the screws of their black-comic farce, and they have a "perfect" leading man in Guillermo Toledo. Toledo's lanky frame, conspicuous jowls, and sharp timing suggest a Spanish John Larroquette, driven to extremes of frustration by the amusingly oversexed Cervera. Varela's droll Antonio reaches absurd heights when he returns as a green-skinned ghost with a machete planted in his smoking head, and Enrique Villen offers deadpan support as a cockeyed detective.

Crimen Ferpecto plays the noir field, with its understanding that no crime goes unpunished, but Iglesia also makes light of cutthroat business (a la The Man Who Wasn't There) and the wages of male chauvinism. When she finally has opportunities, Lourdes takes every advantage, living out Raphael's bygone philosophy "If I like what I see, I grab it." Iglesia's comic cautionary tale observes the monsters created by "every man for himself" attitudes.

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